Hobart and William Smith Colleges were named a 2013 finalist for a Second Nature Climate Leadership Award in recognition of the campus’s dedication to climate leadership.
The award recognizes innovative and advanced leadership in education for sustainability, climate mitigation and adaption, and institutionalized sustainability at signatory campuses of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Recognizing the unique role that colleges and universities have in preparing students and communities to create a more sustainable future, the ACUPCC provides a framework and support for over 600 colleges and universities to go carbon neutral.
Hobart and William Smith President Mark D. Gearan signed the ACUPCC commitment in 2007, cementing the Colleges’ dedication to a campus-wide effort of environmental sustainability and a more complete education towards its mission. In collaboration with ACUPCC, the President’s Climate Task Force, a group of senior staff, faculty, facility personnel, and student representatives appointed by Gearan and the HWS Goes Green Program — the umbrella program for all of the Colleges’ sustainability initiatives — implemented the “Climate Neutral by 2025” plan in an effort to eliminate campus emissions by the year 2025.
The plan incorporates the input of students, faculty, and staff in an effort to create an inclusive educational atmosphere that offers practical applications for theories and ideas learned in the classroom, with the result of making a positive difference on the HWS campus, the Geneva community and Finger Lakes region, and on a global scale.
The Colleges have already made significant headway in achieving their sustainability goals. HWS now purchases 100 percent of their electricity through wind power, and have been able to divert more campus waste as a result of the comprehensive composting program that enabled 90 tons of food waste to be converted to usable compost in 2012. Despite the growth of both the campus and the student population, the Colleges’ energy intensity decreased by 13 percent between 2008 and 2012, meaning that energy efficiency increased in this time by using less energy per square foot of space.
This progress in the Climate Action Plan would not be possible without the widespread commitment by HWS students to create a more environmentally conscious campus and community. Not only does HWS boast a number of student organizations working towards creating more sustainable residential areas and spearheading initiatives on campus to reduce the school’s environmental impact, but students also take an active role in collaborating with the greater Geneva community on various environmental projects. From water quality to sustainable economic development, Hobart and William Smith’s Finger Lakes Institute has been integral in coordinating and facilitating meaningful sustainability student projects that connect HWS with individuals and institutions from the Finger Lakes region.